I had a whole bag of excuses ready for that question. It wasn't done. It was the third part of a series, so it won't make sense. My handwriting is kind of hard to read. I need to go to class; perhaps some other time?
I was having a hard time letting someone in. I wanted to share my work with the world. I dreamed of writing the next great American novel. But nothing was ever perfect enough to show anyone. Nothing was ever ready.
The feeling persisted even through my first year of creative writing in high school. I would rather get a zero on a project before handing my work over to a classmate to read. I had a friend of mine, Jennifer, write a poem for a group project by herself, since I was so deeply afraid of sharing ideas.
That all changed when I was in my second year of creative writing. There wasn't a sudden epiphany; it was slow, sometimes painful process. Here are some of the things that helped me on my journey to no longer being afraid of my writing.
A Helping Hand
I don't remember exactly what the project was; something about writing about a favorite object. One of the girls in class was struggling. So we took a necklace, and I had her write down all of the words that described it: gold, shiny, glittering, jade, worn, antique, passed-down. We then built a poem out of the words by using one or two words a line. She was very happy with the end result. By helping someone else to better their writing and open their mind, it made me realize that if I was good enough to teach, perhaps I was good enough to make me want to share.
Give Out Your Work
It was nearly debilitating, but I sent a poem into a book for high school students to see if they would publish it. I was sure they would hate it, but they ended up accepting the piece. So I did another. That one they rejected it, but had some wonderful things to say about it in my rejection letter. Once I had been really and thoroughly rejected, I felt better. So this is as bad as it gets? I can handle this!
Find Some Support
Start small, and find one friend you can trust with your writing. Have them read it, and suggest one thing they don't like and one thing they do. Then slowly expand your audience. Ask another friend, a teacher, a stranger to look over your writing. Give me one good thing, and one thing to work on. Make sure your readers know the difference between constructive and non-constructive criticism first!
Get Some Help
Sometimes the best thing you can do is give your work to a friend and have them email or mail it to the potential publisher. If you find yourself mulling for hours over the email or the envelope, you might want to just pass the torch. It will keep you from wasting time mulling over what should be an easy decision!
While standing up to our fears of inadequacy as writers can be difficult, it doesn't have to be impossible. Always remember that there will always be people out there who are better (and worse!) at writing than you are. Don't let that stop you from loving your craft.